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Rise of the NFL and Interest in the UK 1

In recent years, the NFL transatlantic gap between the UK and the US is on a gradual decrease. Many UK nationals are starting to embrace American Football as the NFL market appeal continues to rise. The continued growth of NFL has led to a parallel increase in NFL betting in the UK.

Gone are the days when Channel 4 NFL Annual was the only medium where UK residents received NFL news. These days, there are dozens of platforms to access NFL top stories, stats, and gossip around the globe. The ease of accessibility to the NFL has consequently resulted in the rise of the NFL in the UK as detailed below.

NFL’s presence in the UK in years gone by, was much like a smouldering fire, though the flames were not visible, underneath the surface was a passion waiting to be set free. One of the reasons which kept the NFL fire burning was the undying love for the sport shown by some top brands and corporates from Europe and the US. One such example is Budweiser which managed to establish and fund the American Football Writers Association of Britain (AFWAD), a group of top journalists who despite the lack of substantial support managed to keep relaying NFL news to the UK public.

Acknowledgement of the NFL by mainstream media in the early 2000s marked as the turning point of NFL popularity in the UK. As the mainstream media steadfastly started to broadcast NFL games (though few and far in-between at first), interest in the NFL from the UK began to rise. One such broadcaster that made great strides in bringing the NFL to the UK people is Sky Sports. Sky Sports made sure NFL remained alive in the UK after Channel 4 found the going tough. A few years later, other media houses like BBC began to embrace NFL and included some of its programs and matches on their schedules.

Mainstream media was the turning point, but the emergence of social media and mobile technology marked as the big break in the rise of the NFL and interest in the UK. Though mainstream media provided more accessibility channels for people of the UK, it was the emergence of mobile technology and more specifically, social media, that provided the ease of which anyone could access NFL news on the go at any time. As more people could read the top trending NFL news, gossip, and stats wherever they were and no matter the time, the interest in the NFL rapidly rose in the UK.

The emergence of mobile technology and social media also paved the way for online forums and communities whose primary purpose was to discuss and share NFL stories. Online NFL magazines also came to the fore as they could easily reach many NFL fans through social media. The popularity of NFL magazine Gridiron in the UK can be attributed to social media.

Additionally, the contribution of UK celebrities in spreading NFL’s popularity cannot be understated. As social media made it possible for fans to connect more personally with their celebrities, many became heavily influenced by their favourite celebrities’ lifestyles. In this way, we can say that celebs like Venon Kay and Martin Johnson, openly expressed their interest in NFL which equally resonated via social mentions via their fan base.

The mere fact that the UK was able to host at least 2 NFL International matches since 2007, bears testimony that the interest in NFL has significantly risen over the years. Starting from 2015, all NFL matches played at Wembley were completely sold out while this year 2017, we anticipate a total of 4 NFL events with the same result in uptake.


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